Improve Employee Engagement by using the DISC assessment and the 5 Languages of Appreciation

November 3, 2016 8:20 am Published by


Discover your Language of Appreciation

Employee engagement has been shown to be an important factor that predicts healthier and more productive organizations. As a result, thousands of organizations assess the level of engagement for their employees annually, and attempt to implement strategies and programs to improve their engagement from year to year. However, many leaders have found that it is not that easy to increase the level of team members’ engagement. This is especially true in the area of how to increase employees’ sense of being valued and appreciated for their contributions.

The DISC and the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory are two online assessment tools frequently used in workplace settings. They both assist employees in understanding themselves better as well as learning how to more effectively work with their colleagues. The MBA Inventory and D
ISC were designed for two distinct purposes and provide different information about individuals but they can be used together to help organizations increase the level of appreciation experienced by employees.

A Brief Introduction to the DISC

The DISC personality assessment is a tool whose name is derived from the four main personality styles it assesses: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Descriptions of each personality style and associated behaviors are shown here:1

  • Dominance: Person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence. Behaviors: – sees the big picture -can be blunt -accepts challenges -gets straight to the point.
  • Influence: Person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships. Behaviors: -shows enthusiasm -is optimistic -likes to collaborate -dislikes being ignored.
  • Steadiness: Person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability. Behaviors: doesn’t like to be rushed -calm manner -calm approach -supportive actions -humility.
  • Conscientiousness: Person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency Behaviors: -enjoys independence -objective reasoning -wants the details -fears being wrong

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace describes an approach to understand how individuals prefer to receive appreciation and encouragement in the workplace. Derived from The 5 Love Languages, authored by Dr. Gary Chapman, the 5 Languages of Appreciation are based on the principle that not everyone feels appreciated in the same way.

By communicating authentic appreciation in the language of appreciation most valued to each person, we have demonstrated through published research the ability to increase individuals’ and groups’ sense of being appreciated by their colleagues.

Because the DISC and MBA Inventory are widely used in a variety of work settings, we recently published research that explored the relationship between DISC personality styles and individuals’ Languages of Appreciation as assessed by the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory.

One of the main findings of our study2 was that you cannot predict how a person wants to be shown appreciation from their DISC personality profile. Similarly, knowing an individual’s preferred Language of Appreciation gives you no clue about their personality as assessed by the DISC. Essentially, we found that the two measures are totally independent and complementary.

The two measures are helpful to use together, however, in more effectively showing appreciation to one’s colleagues and ultimately, retaining employees. The MBA Inventory shows how people want to be shown appreciation, while the DISC indicates for what employees want to be appreciated.

For example, Shauna found her primary Language of Appreciation to be Quality Time, and specifically, she feels valued when her colleagues stop by to “check in” and see how she is doing. Additionally, her DISC profile showed that she has a high S, with a secondary I. By knowing this, her coworkers can infer that being warm and supportive is important to Shauna, and calling attention to actions which demonstrate this part of her personality (e.g. reaching out to new employees to make them feel welcome) will be important to her.

In comparison, Scott is a really High D with some C as his secondary personality style. He likes to get things done and is willing to take the lead to make sure that happens. Regardless of what Appreciation Language he prefers to be encouraged by (it is actually Words of Affirmation), those around Scott can know that he wants to be supported and recognized for his demonstrated leadership among the team and being willing to make tough decisions.

In summary, the DISC provides valuable information for selecting and successfully incorporating new employees into their respective work group, while the MBA Inventory gives important information on how to keep key team members engaged and employed. When utilized together, the DISC and MBA Inventory provide collaborative information on how to effectively communicate appreciation and for what colleagues want to be shown appreciation.


When supervisors and colleagues know both how to effectively communicate appreciation in the ways meaningful to each team member and for what the individuals want to be appreciated, powerful results can follow — improving the staff’s sense of feeling truly valued and, as a result, increasing the level of employee engagement across the organization.

If your organization uses the DISC or if you are a DISC trainer, contact us to find out how to utilize the MBA Inventory to make the DISC more valuable in learning how to keep the good employees you have hired.

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  1. DISC info obtained from .
  2. Special thanks to the leadership at TTI Success Insights who helped provide the codes for the DISC profiles utilized in our research & collaborated on the research, and George Gottschall who facilitated the relationship between TTI and Appreciation at Work.







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Published by
November 3, 2016 8:20 am

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